fresh voices from the front lines of change







Mike Hall on our AFL-CIO Now Blog staff wrote about the latest Republican maneuvering to kill a qualified nominee for the nation’s Labor Board and I want to share it with you.

Republican Senate leaders are so frightened that a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) might actually have an open mind about workers’ rights, that in two purely partisan maneuvers, they’ve blocked a majority vote on one of President Obama’s nominees for an NLRB seat.

Craig Becker is a highly respected and experienced labor law practitioner and scholar. He has an impressive 27-year record of advocating for and representing workers, especially low-wage workers. He is currently an associate general counsel for the AFL-CIO and SEIU.

That experience—as opposed to being the type of management stooge favored by the Bush administration—is what has driven Republicans into a mouth-foaming frenzy.

First, they’ve rushed to seat newly elected Scott Brown (R-Mass.) moving up his original Feb. 11 date to this morning in order to break the Democrats 60-vote filibuster proof majority. A vote to end the Becker filibuster was set for tomorrow, followed by a confirmation vote that only requires a simple majority—basic democracy. Brown’s seating scuttles that.

In addition, two Republican senators, Mike Enzi (Wyo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who earlier had voted for Becker at the committee level last year, somewhere along the line had an epiphany that Becker was the devil incarnate with a union card and now say they will vote against Becker.

Of course, both the rush-job swearing in and see-the-light moments by Enzi and Murkowski came following a full-court press by a panicked U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbyists that had an inside track and cozy relations with the pro-management Bush NLRB for nearly a decade.

Despite Republican and corporate attempts to paint Becker as a red-tinged radical, he is a mainstream labor lawyer, whom Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, calls “one of the pre-eminent labor law thinkers in the United States.”

Last month, 66 labor law professors from our nation’s top law schools wrote Senate leaders urging Becker’s immediate confirmation and attesting to his “integrity, fairness, and dedication to advancing Congress’ purposes in adopting federal labor law and to the role of the NLRB.”

How’s this for far-out, dangerous and crazed pro-union beliefs? Here are some excerpts for Becker’s opening state to the HELP committee yesterday.

As an attorney, I have sat across the table from management and also on the same side of the table, in both postures gaining an understanding of employers’ concerns and often finding common ground between labor and management….I have represented parties on both sides of unfair labor practice cases.

I fully understand that, if confirmed, I will occupy a position far different from the positions I have occupied as a scholar, teacher, and advocate…if confirmed I will have a duty to implement the intent of Congress as expressed in the law, to consider impartially all views appropriately expressed to the Board.

Pretty scary stuff if you’re a Republican senator, huh?

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